Both Canada's Ocean Supercluster and the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans announced this week their funding programs to support the development of sustainable aquaculture and wild fisheries in the country.

Both Canada's Ocean Supercluster and the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans announced this week their funding programs to support the development of sustainable aquaculture and wild fisheries in the country.

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Canada's seafood industry aims to grow to 25 billion dollars by 2035

Both aquaculture and wild fisheries will be responsible for driving this growth, according to Canada's Ocean Supercluster, which has issued its 2024 AI Ocean Call for Proposals.

In 2019, the value of Canada's seafood sector was CAD 8 billion (EUR 5.4 billion - USD 5.9 billion). Now, it aims to grow to CAD 25 billion (EUR 17 billion - USD 18.4 billion) by 2035. The figure was provided by Canada's Ocean Supercluster (OSC), in its 2024 AI Ocean Call for Proposals presented this week.

"An ambition to grow the sector by 2035 to $25 billion will largely be driven by sustainable aquaculture and wild fisheries, as well as emerging markets such as seaweed and fish alternatives including circular economy solutions from the ocean that will contribute to this growth," OSC stated.

Canada's Ocean Supercluster is an agency dedicated to driving the growth of the country's ocean economy. This call for proposals is a framework to provide companies seeking to co-invest with the OSC an avenue to enhance their AI knowledge, capabilities, and overall competitiveness.

In the same vein of supporting the sustainable growth of the seafood industry in Canada, the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans also announced this week the award of more than CAD 3.5 million (EUR 2.3 million - USD 2.5 million) in funding for 18 initiatives under the Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program (FACTAP).

Need for reliable and cost-effective technologies

"As we navigate the evolving landscape of dynamic fisheries management and ecosystem-based approaches, the need for more sophisticated ocean technology solutions becomes imperative. These solutions must seamlessly blend hardware, software, and intelligence to meet the current and future demands of the industry," Canada’s Ocean Supercluster said in the call guidelines.

Fishers and fish farmers need reliable and cost-effective technologies, both are essential for more efficient and sustainable fishing and farming practices. In addition, there is also a need for processing technologies that, according to OSC, could help address labor shortages due to an aging workforce and the difficulty of attracting a new or younger labor force.

But it's not just about streamlining workflows, the Sustainable Seafood 2024 call is designed to invest in a wide range of solutions that also help mitigate risks in real-time and improve productivity while reducing environmental impact, commercializing new seafood species, and even repatriating seafood processing activities into Canada.

"The integration of cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies can revolutionize the preservation, processing, and traceability of seafood, signaling a new era of digital transformation in the supply chain. Such advancements are poised to unlock unprecedented value, driving prosperity, sustainability, and security within Canada’s seafood industry," added OSC.

Aquaculture and fisheries industries applaud OSC's call

The sustainable seafood solutions applying for funding from the OSC call for proposals must be aligned with the objectives of Ambition 2035 - a 5X growth potential in the ocean economy in Canada by 2035. "It is worth noting that Ambition 2035 was informed by the Blue Economy joint vision by FCC and CAIA which aspires Canada to be in the top 3 best quality and sustainable seafood producers by 2040," pointed out the Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC), and the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) in a joint statement applauding the 2024 AI Ocean Call.

"This call will advance innovations like those highlighted in our recent Innovation Storyboard," said FCC President, Paul Lansbergen. "We have the longest coastline in the world. We have among the brightest minds. Now the Supercluster has a program focused on putting the two together."

"Canadian aquaculture companies have for a long time been investing in enhancing their processes, to world-leading levels," added Timothy Kennedy, CAIA President & CEO. "This call for proposals will encourage the development and adoption of new innovations that will continuously improve environmental performance while growing jobs, improving Canada’s food security, and ensuring healthy communities."

Both professional organizations work to showcase innovation efforts in their respective subsectors. FCC published its 'Innovation Storyboard' last fall, while CAIA recently hosted innovation showcases in Ottawa on emerging technologies in salmon farming. Their joint reaction to Canada's Ocean Supercluster call is a sign that fisheries and aquaculture can not only coexist but collaborate to drive sustainable growth of the sector.

Funding for clean technologies also from the Canadian Government

As mentioned above, also this week, the Government of Canada committed to promoting the use of clean technologies as a key strategy to safeguard the environment and foster economic growth in the fishing and aquaculture industries. Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced over CAD 3.5 million (EUR 2.3 million - USD 2.5 million) in funding to support improved environmental performance and competitiveness in the sector.

This federal funding under the FACTAP - which will fund 18 initiatives - supports small and medium-sized companies in their efforts to adopt and incorporate clean and innovative technologies into their business operations that will help them reduce their environmental impact. The program also includes funding to pilot test late-stage innovations or process technologies in Canada’s aquaculture sector.

"With today’s announcement, our Government is giving our aquaculture producers, harvesters, and processors, as well as commercial fishers the tools they need to implement more environmentally efficient practices, and invest in cutting-edge techniques and technologies," said Lebouthillier. "From coast to coast to coast, I’m confident this investment will help the aquaculture and fisheries sectors to become even more sustainable and environmentally friendly."

Meanwhile, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans continues undertaking a review of proposed changes to marine finfish aquaculture regulations, which will be implemented in July 2024 and particularly affect the British Columbia region where current marine finfish aquaculture licenses expire on June 30, 2024. The latest news was that Canada may extend the duration of salmon farming licenses in BC.

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